By: Michelle Cook, Summer Law Student
The Ontario Liberal government has just concluded its comprehensive review of the Ontario Employment Standards Act and Ontario Labour Relations Act, the two pieces of legislation that set out minimum standards in the workplace. While only the interim report has been released to the public, the final version of the Changing Workplaces Review is expected to summarize some harsh realities about what composes the modern workplace, such as precarious employment, temporary short-term contracts, misclassification of job titles and union animosity. This, in turn, has led to a growing sense of anxiety about job security for many Ontarian workers.
This long-overdue review involved the input of numerous academic experts and industry discussions. The conclusions of the Interim Report were clear: something needs to be done. However, it remains to be seen what exact changes will be implemented, especially as the Ontario Liberals head into a difficult election season next year. Despite that, it was recently reported by the Toronto Star that Labour Minister Kevin Flynn is considering broad proposals, such as:
- raising the minimum wage to $15;
- placing a reverse onus on employers to demonstrate why part-time and contractual work (which deprives employees of many labour protections and benefits) is not full-time permanent employment;
- boosting vacation pay from two weeks to three weeks, on par with more industrialized countries; and
- reducing hurdles to unionization by introducing card-based certification in precarious work groups such as cleaning staff and home-care workers, who have traditionally not organized due to their disperse and fragmented workplaces.
While these proposals are a step in the right direction to increase worker’s entitlements, the proposals may not go far enough to address significant problems such as automation, out-sourcing, difficulties in organizing franchised workplaces, and the difficulties of enforcing labour laws. No matter what proposals are eventually implemented, one thing is certain: there will be push-back from employers saying it goes too far while unions will criticize the changes for not going far enough.
Devry Smith Frank LLP is a full service law firm that has a very experienced group of lawyers within our employee and labour law groups. If you are in need of representation, please contact one of our lawyers today or call us directly at 416-449-1400.
“This article is intended to inform and entertain. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”